The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has expressed concern about the shrinking of democratic space in Sri Lanka.
In a report released on September 3, 2023, the OHCHR said that the government has taken a number of steps in recent years that have eroded civil liberties and restricted the rights of its citizens.
These steps include the passage of laws that restrict freedom of expression, association, and assembly; the use of surveillance to monitor and intimidate critics of the government; and the prosecution of journalists and activists on spurious charges.
The OHCHR report also noted that the government has failed to take meaningful steps to address the legacy of the civil war, which ended in 2009.
This has created an environment of impunity for human rights abuses, and has contributed to the shrinking of democratic space.
The report called on the Sri Lankan government to take urgent steps to reverse the trend of democratic backsliding.
These steps should include repealing or amending laws that restrict civil liberties, ending the use of surveillance to intimidate critics, and ensuring that all human rights abuses are investigated and prosecuted.
The report also called on the international community to support the Sri Lankan people in their efforts to defend democracy and human rights.
This support could include providing technical assistance to the government to strengthen its human rights institutions, and pressing the government to take concrete steps to address the legacy of the civil war.
The shrinking of democratic space in Sri Lanka is a serious concern. The OHCHR report has highlighted the need for the government to take urgent steps to reverse this trend. The international community also has a role to play in supporting the Sri Lankan people in their efforts to defend democracy and human rights.
In addition to the OHCHR report, there have been a number of other recent reports and statements that have expressed concern about the shrinking of democratic space in Sri Lanka.
These include a report by the International Crisis Group, a statement by the European Parliament, and a statement by the United States Department of State.
The concerns expressed by these organizations and governments are a reminder that the situation in Sri Lanka is a serious one. The government must take urgent steps to reverse the trend of democratic backsliding, or else it risks losing the hard-won gains of the past few decades.